GUEST POST: Running Tour of CapeTown

A couple of weeks ago, while Joe was suffering from his breakfast injury (and before we knew it was more than just something that would feel better in a couple of hours), I got to go on a great tour of CapeTown with Philippa Jephson of Run Cape Town.

Philippa is the founder of Run Cape Town. She’s from South Africa and lives in Cape Town, but got the idea when she worked as an urban running guide in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I chose the Historical City Centre Run, the 12 km version. The Run Cape Town description said that she would describe some of the sites as we ran past or through them; others we would stop at along the way. In addition to being a wonderful guide, knowledgeable and accommodating to my interests and pace, Philippa brought along water and a camera–all the pictures in this post were taken by her (except the one of her that comes from the Run Cape Town website).

We were staying down by the Table Bay waterfront and Philippa met me at our hotel. Our route took us along the beautiful waterfront and had views out to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment. Robben Island was also used as a leper colony in the past. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our first brief stop was near the V & A Waterfront, where we saw dolphins.

After going along the waterfront, we ran into the downtown area of CapeTown as Philippa described the history of the early settlement by the Dutch. In this photo is a statue of Maria van Riebeeck (b. 1629), first wife of Jan van Riebeck, the Dutch colonial administrator and first commander of the Dutch settlement at the Cape. She had 8 children, most of whom died young, and she herself died at the age of 35 in Malaysia.

Statue of Maria van Riebeeck. If I recall correctly, this is the only statue honoring a woman in the area.

We also visited the Groot Kerk, (the “Great Church”), a Dutch Reformed Church. Its first building on the site was built in 1678; the current building was built in 1841. The church has an impressive pulpit, carved in Germany, with lions at its base. The gentleman who showed us around said the original design called for three maidens, representing Faith, Hope, and Charity to serve as the base, but the church fathers decided that the maidens weren’t a good idea.

Lions holding up the pulpit in the Groote Kerke.

Another highlight was seeing St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Cape Town, and the Arch for Arch, a sculpture celebrating Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

St. George’s Anglican Cathedral

Downtown Cape Town has many beautiful buildings, including some wonderful Art Deco designs, like the Mutual Building (now condos) and an eyewear store that sports this spiffy logo.

We also ran through the color-filled Bo-Kaap neighborhood, the historical center of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town, and a Muslim area with many beautiful mosques.

We also stopped to buy a few of the Cape Malay version of Koeksisters (pronounced “cook sisters”), a treat of fried dough infused with syrup and flavored with citrus, ginger, aniseed, and cardamom (we took 3 with us to eat after the run–2 for us and 1 for Joe). Delicious.

Our route back took us through other beautiful neighborhoods and parks. Our total Run/Tour was 15 kms.

It was a great way to see a beautiful city and learn about its history and present. Philippa was a wonderful guide and even sent me follow-up information later about upcoming running events in South Africa. If we get back to Cape Town, I will definitely sign up for another tour. Hopefully Joe can join in too. I’m happy to report he is on the mend and hopes to get back to running soon.

You can get more information about Run Cape Town here.